The Secretary of the Codex Alimentarius Commission is a senior FAO official who serves as the Chief of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programmes, located within the Food Quality and Standards Service of the Food and Nutrition Division at FAO in Rome.
The Commission's Secretariat comprises six full-time officials based at FAO's Rome headquarters - a surprisingly small number, considering the size and international nature of the Commission's activities.
Commission and executive meetings are administered and serviced entirely by the Rome-based staff. Preparation for these meetings is a formidable task which involves, among a myriad other things, the compilation of agenda item papers and supervision of preparatory work done by others. The preparation of Commission meeting reports is a demanding task in itself, as the report of each meeting must be cleared by participants before its closing. Furthermore, many hours of intense activity are required to ensure that all necessary follow-up is carried out after each meeting.
Many subsidiary committees are hosted, financially maintained and serviced by Member Governments, while the Commission Secretariat coordinates the activities and oversees the operations of those committees. The Secretariat collaborates with subsidiary committee staff in host countries to decide timing and venues for meetings, issue invitations to member countries, finalize agendas and papers, arrange the recording of meeting proceedings as well as the preparation and distribution of meeting reports and ensure that meeting decisions are acted on. There may be as many as 20 Codex committee meetings in any 12-month period.